It’s been ten years since Twilight first managed to grace print, born for the most part because one agent didn’t realize how long the book was. This thing has been called everything from a teenage phenomenon to a zit on the face of the written word. Personally, I’m somewhere between those two. I’ve seen worse than Twilight. I’ve read Hush Hush.
Now, while I was the original target demographic (I seem to have been lucky enough to have been that for a lot of popular works), I never actually read the story when it came out. I just generally didn’t like vampire fiction. Never have.
However, that doesn’t give Meyer free reign, so in ‘honor’ of the book’s tenth anniversary, and because she just gave more material that hasn’t been sporked to shreds, I’m starting a rant series.
Everything Wrong With Twilight.
Strap yourselves in, because we’re going in for the long haul. This chapter is likely going to be the shortest that I give you.
Part 1: It was based off of a dream
Surprised that this is where I start? Well, as far as I can see, you can’t really address the series without addressing this first. Meyer did nothing but promote the fact that the story came to her in a dream. Even in her guide she states point blank that the day she had that dream was the day that she became a writer.
Now, I’m no stranger to dreams being really influential. I’d be deceiving you if I didn’t mention that I’ve done this. I had a dream that started me writing. However, unlike Meyer, I have the understanding that a dream, no matter how vivid, isn’t enough to justify a four book series.
To those who are not aware of this part of the book’s history, Stephenie Meyer had a dream one night. A dream where a normal looking girl was talking to a vampire that was sparkling. He was talking to her, telling her that he was a vampire, wanted to eat her at some level, but was also in love with her. The dream was, apparently, so vivid that she remembered it and wanted to keep it with her.
So, in her spare time, she wrote down the contents of the dream, which would eventually become the infamous Meadow Scene of Twilight.
Absolutely everything in the entire series exists because of and for that one particular scene. The reason why the vampires sparkle is simply because that was what was happening within the dream, and she had to bend everything around her because of it.
The reason that they’re even vampires is because of the dream. Meyer herself is not a fan of vampire fiction, and knows very little about the folklore around them, other than what she has gained via pop cultural osmosis. She admits in at least one interview that she honestly was always more of a fan of superheroes. Everything had to be, for her, just like the contents of her dream, because if they weren’t, the thing that she was trying to recreate would be gone.
So, why is this such a bad thing?
The first reason that this is the foundation of what’s wrong with the series is simple: nothing was ever supposed to happen. The primary conflict was only the tension between Edwards desire to eat Bella and his love for her. There was no overall plot because there could be no overall plot. The entire book was written around, and was an extension of, the Meadow Scene. Most of the first part of the first book was written to lead up to that one scene.
The story, as far as Meyer was concerned at some level, could have stopped right there.
The buildup for most of the book, and the tension was the question of what Edward was. While the movie made a brave attempt to actually give the James plot better focus, the book was completely around Edward and nothing else.
As such, James’ appearance occurred to late because the primary conflict had been resolved. They loved one another. The plot wasn’t around a mystery. It wasn’t around an event. It was around the fact that Bella and Edward loved one another, and Meyer hadn’t even drawn that one out.
In the later books, the same problem is evident. New Moon is around Bella losing everything because Edward leaves her. She cannot move on because Edward is the extent of her character arc. The moment that she accepted Edward’s love, she was unable to move on because that was the point of her arc, and there couldn’t be a new arc, just a re-realization of the first.
Eclipse is around, again, Bella accepting Edward’s love. This time in the form of marriage. Everything else, from Victoria’s presence to the un-love triangle, was just padding. It’s around her accepting his love eternally, rather than just as a human, since she can only be a vampire if Edward marries her first. That’s why the actual conflict is always so in the background, and Bella is always so sure that she’s safe. Because that subplot doesn’t really matter.
Breaking Dawn, which is the weakest of all the books, is merely Meyer’s own fantasy about the perfect life. Life as Meyer wished it had happened. It is about Bella receiving the perfect child, having the perfect husband, and living forever in the perfect life with all care or worry removed from her. People complain that there is nothing happening because the thing that was supposed to happen has already happened. Bella has accepted that Edward loves her and wants to eat her. That was the entire purpose of the dream, and thus of the novels. The battle is averted and everyone smiles, shakes hands and goes home because there is literally no point to the conflict. It’s not about the Voltori.
From the series’ very foundation, there is really nothing there other than a flimsy conflict which proves what most writers say about using dreams for inspiration: not a good idea for something like this. From the first, Meyer is set up with a situation that cannot be solved, vampires that would be hated, and characters who have only one actual motivation: for Bella to accept Edward’s undying love and be happy.
But that’s not the only problem. Ooooh no. That’s just the foundational problem. There are much, much worse problems. The books could have, conceivably gotten around this. House of Seven Gables has one of the weakest foundations that I’ve ever seen, and it’s still viewed as a classic American novel.
So, be prepared as I touch on the Sue of Sues herself in my next post.